By Bill Beck, Board of Directors
On September 8th the Oakland City Council passed a resolution to actively support and endorse workers’ co-ops. By doing so, this large municipality recognized that co-ops provide a viable alternative to the traditional capitalist for-profit business model. They formally recognized that co-ops are good for their community and they should be supported and encouraged.
Co-ops are different. We do provide a viable, positive alternative to the conventional, for-profit business model. Our cooperative business is built on the values of equality, equity, honesty, openness, social responsibility and caring for others. We nourish our community by providing consumers with healthy food and products and we nurture our community with cooperative values. It is a good thing that the healthy goodness provided by our co-op expands and grows.
Since the first formal cooperative was founded in 1849, co-ops have grown to include 1 billion members worldwide. The International Cooperative Alliance (ICA) has 243 member organizations in 94 countries. Consumer co-ops like ours are expanding in the United States, spreading co-op values, building healthy communities and providing an alternative to the for profit economic model that has created an unequal and often unjust world.
Our co-op has grown steadily during its 42-year history. We have grown from four original founders to 7,500 owners. Everyone is equal, no one can own more than another. In the first month of our Co-op our sales were $128.88. In July 2015 our monthly sales were $839,650.68.
We have become the largest employer downtown. We are creating an ever-growing culture of happy healthy people who are good stewards of the earth and each other. People see and feel the cooperative difference. They know a good thing when they feel it. The positive influence of our co-op on our community is clear.
It is only natural that good things grow. From a business point of view, there is ever increasing competition in the natural foods marketplace. The long-range sustainability of our co-op and the cooperative alternative it provides requires that we meet the growing market for healthy natural and organic food and products. Either we are going to meet the growing need for local healthy food or a for profit, non-democratic business will. Our cooperative can both nourish and nurture our community by meeting the growing healthy food needs of our community in an equal, fair and socially responsible cooperative way. Growth can help us create positive change for our community and a more secure future our co-op.